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Paint workshops consume most water in the industry

There has been no shortage of awareness raised about water wastage in households, but is the auto industry doing its bit?

Spanish car maker, Seat says that the paint workshop in its Martorell factory in Barcelona consumes most of the water it uses, an issue I suspect is the same with most car manufacturers.

Seat has highlighted this issue, with the commitment to preserving ecosystems as a basic cornerstone of its environmental strategy.

Chassis surface treatments, water wash booths prior to painting and the final paint applications on cars are the main areas that require large amounts of water. However, Seat says improvements have been made and bodyshops is precisely where consumption is being reduced.

When cars are spray painted, the small amount that does not make it onto the vehicles falls into a treatment tank. “Here we add the necessary chemical products to separate the paint from the water, and once clean, it is returned to the process in a completely closed circuit”, explains Dr. Joan Carles Casas, a Plant Engineering manager at Seat.

Another area that generates a high level of consumption is the rain test, which is used to check the watertightness of the vehicles by pouring down 150 litres of water per square metre on a six-minute run. This process also uses a closed circuit. “We collect and carry all the water used to a purification circuit and later return it to the process for reuse”, adds Dr. Casas.

In order to drastically reduce the impact on the water cycle, new, more efficient processes are needed to lower the amount of water consumed, recycle and reuse the water used in a single process, and return it to the ecosystem in optimum condition. Seat claims it will reduce its consumption by 38 per cent by 2025.

“Digitalisation and new technologies are helping us make enormous progress towards a model of circular economy with more recycling and fewer emissions. But what is more important is the awareness and proactivity of the Seat team, which will certainly enable us to fulfil our goals,” Dr. Casas concludes.